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Founded1932; 92 years ago (1932) in Nanterre[1]
FounderFerdinand de Vazeilles
Defunct2006; 18 years ago (2006)[2]
FateAcquired by Majorette in 1980, then became a brand[2]
ProductsDie-cast scale model cars, military vehicles, commercial vehicles
OwnerSimba Dickie Group

Solido is a French brand and former manufacturing company of die-cast scale models of cars, military vehicles and commercial vehicles. The models are usually made of zamac alloy in varying scales.


Solido was established in 1932[2][1] by Ferdinand de Vazeilles, who was the director of the "Fonderie de précision de Nanterre" in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre, France.[1] Two years later, the Solido brand was created.[2] The company was one of the first European firms to champion the "virtues of unbreakable diecast metal."[3] Vazeilles' first product was a metal Gergovia brand spark plug on wheels.[4]In 1953, de Vazeilles bequeathed the company, then called Solijouets SA, to his son Jean René.[5] By 1960, de Vazeilles' three children, Charlotte, Jean, and Colette were running it.

After World War II, the company factory was relocated farther west to the town of Ivry-la-Bataille in Normandy.[5] In 1974, the company opened a new factory in Oulins. Later information on the Solido boxes labeled the company home as in nearby Anet, a postal designation.

At the end of the 1970s, during a financial crisis, Solido entered the Jouet Francais Group which included Jouef, Delacoste & Heller. The new company was called Heller-Solido SA, and the Vazeilles family no longer controlled the Solido company. At the end of 1980, Heller-Solido SA went into liquidation and was purchased by Majorette.[6] The Majorette takeover brought cost-saving measures and, though the Oulins factory remained in operation, some contract construction of toys took place at other facilities, including prisons.[6]

In 2003 Solido became property of Smoby Toys. Smoby closed the Oulins factory in 2006, relocating production to China. Two years later, Smoby was bought by the Simba Dickie Group.[2]


First vehicles[edit]

Solido model car and portion of original gift set package, 1938

The first Solido lines (Major, Junior and Baby) were introduced in 1932, 1933, and 1935, respectively.[7] The Major series was 1:35 scale and had already been phased out by 1937 according to Edward Force.[8] At this time several different cars were made, a few of different truck models, and also military guns and cannons.

In 1952, a smaller rather crude 1:60 scale 'Mosquito' series was introduced featuring 12 models. The first 1:43 scale '100' series was started in 1957 and this set the stage for Solido's ascendance, though models were not numbered until 1962, according to Force. The first military vehicles, for which Solido has become particularly well known, appeared in 1961.

Industry leader[edit]

Through the 1960s, models continually improved in detail and realism, and were often based on blueprints from actual car manufacturers. The '100' series was a combination of realistic production cars as well as competition models, mostly from European manufacturers. French Citroen, Peugeot, Renault and Matra were often the focus, but vehicles from Italy and Germany were also common. British marques were not as prevalent in the line-up. Various buses and trucks also began production.[9]

1955 Renault 4CV

Starting in 1964 Solido incorporated vintage vehicles, their L'Âge d'Or (or Golden Age) line into their range, starting with the 1928 Mercedes SS. These were slightly larger and more complex than the leaders in the field at the time, the Matchbox Models of Yesteryear, and better finished but not as detailed as Rio Models. The L'Âge d'Or range along with Matchbox and Rio were among the first diecast lines marketed to adults as much as children.[10]

As the 1960s progressed the models became lighter by using plastic bases, and the range concentrated increasingly on sports and racing cars. In comparison their great rivals French Dinky stayed with their tactics of modelling mostly the sedans on the French roads at the time. The late 1960s were a tough time for die-cast vehicle manufacturers in general, but Solido survived whereas French Dinky closed shop in 1971. In the mid-1970s, there were about 50 models in the standard Solido line.

By 1970, the company was fairly diversified, making a superior line of classic cars (L'Âge d'or – about 12 models), Les Militaires (about 40 models), commercial vehicles (Toner Gam – about 15 models), and "Poids Lourds", a series of larger heavier diecast trucks (about 10 different models). Several gift sets were available. During the early 1970s Solido became the benchmark of the collectible 1:43 scale diecast vehicle.

Solido's niche[edit]

1956 Citroen DS19

Solido models were known for their realistic details.[citation needed] For example, Corgi and Dinky used flashy, but inauthentic "jewels" for head and tail lights while Solido distinguished itself by prudently using clear plastics for enhanced realism. If Solido had a weakness, it may have been in paint. At times colors seemed odd (like the bright green for the 1961 Thunderbird) and paint application was often thin and rather grainy. Rixon referred to it as "slightly hammered".[11] By comparison, Bburago or Eligor Models had rich paint jobs with smooth and glossy finishes.

Some 1:43 scale diecasts like the Italian Polistil in the late 1960s with their Politoys M-Series, used a metal "wire" wheel, and Solido did as well in the early 1960s, but then beat that in their 100 and GAM 2 series in the 1970s by impressively copying the wheel styles from the actual vehicles. Thus Solidos usually had a unique wheel style for every model. To keep down production costs, the competition usually used one (often simple or unattractive) style common to most vehicles in their lines. Eventually, even for Solido, this became impractical and the company stopped using unique wheel designs around 1980. Another sign of uniqueness in detail were the web of gray plastic 'chains' seen on some trucks like 1974 Simca-Unic snow plough.[12]

The trade-off in superior wheel detail was in not having all parts open or move, as seen with Politoys' M Series, Mebetoys or the German Gama Toys. Solidos would have an opening engine lid or doors, but not all parts moved. By the late 1970s, Solido's GAM 2 series more commonly had no moving parts. Nevertheless, Solido detail remained impeccable and their cars remained the industry standard (for the price) through the early 1990s, and with some touching-up held their own against collector models costing in the hundreds of dollars.[13]

Packaging and marketing[edit]

In the early 1960s, boxes of a light green and white lettering with vehicles shown in a rust colored outline were common. Lighter colored blue or lavender boxes also appeared, but by the mid-1960s, this packaging gave way to more striking solid red boxes with lettering and car illustrated in white.[14] The first of these red box cars were called the "bolide" (meteor or fireball) series, and gave the Solido models new excitement, and new masculinity.[15] Most boxes in the 1970s and 1980s were some variation on red, yellow or orange, and then plastic 'display cases' were implemented with light cardboard coverings in various glossy colors.

Some 1960s Solidos were licensed to the Spanish company Dalia and made in Spain. Solido, like many diecast manufacturers, also participated in various promotions where it suited them. For example, when French Sports Car maker Matra placed 1 and 2 at the 24-hour race of LeMans in 1972, it "made full marketing use" of Solido which made a patriotic red, white and blue (colors of the French flag) set of the two cars (long and short tail versions.[16]

Solido gradually introduced other sizes besides 1:43, such as the 1:18 Prestige line that was popular in the 1990s. The Mini Cooper in this larger size was made in 1:16 scale. As with most model makers, Solido also offered models in different promotional editions.

Solido today[edit]

Majorette's influence in the 1980s brought some simplification of models, but without harm to overall quality. In the mid-1990s, Majorette Toys purchased the Portuguese Novacars factory and formed a conglomerate called Ideal Loisirs. Solido production was halted for a time, until January 1996 when Triumph-Adler AG of Nürnberg, Germany, took over Idéal Loisirs/Majorette/Solido.[6] Solido miniature production was commenced again.

About 2000, much production was shifted to China and dies from some other companies, like the Spanish Mira were used. Solido became part of toy producer Smoby when it bought Majorette in 2003. Smoby became part of the Simba Dickie Group which also owns German model producer Schuco. Reportedly, Majorette was to be divorced from Smoby again in 2008 and sold to MI29, a French investment fund which owns Bigben Interactive, but the Simba-Dickie website in early 2011 still included Majorette and Solido.

Over the last decade, Solido 1:43 scale cars have moved into a slightly more premium and detailed model – more for the collector and less for children – though Solido still offers the same similar lines of "Yesterday", "Today", "l'âge d'or", "1960s", and a variety of competition models. Prices also seem to still be relatively competitive, with most 1:43 scale vehicles going for a reasonable $20.00 while larger 1:18 scales sell for $40.00 to $70.00, which is also typical for large scale. Price is kept reasonable, mainly because most models are now made in China.

Catalog content analysis[edit]

Though the focus has always been French vehicles, that emphasis has magnified somewhat over time. An inspection of 115 vehicles in the 1975 catalog shows 48 percent of Solido offerings to be French made vehicles (Berliet, Saviem, Renault, Peugeot, Citroen, Simca, Matra, etc.) with nine countries represented (Famous Miniatures 1975). German offerings came to 26 percent. Italian – 18%, and Great Britain, New Zealand, Sweden, Spain, Russia and the United States were all represented. Marques from the U.S. were 10 percent of the offerings.

A count of all French vehicles of the 175 portrayed on the Solido website in 2010 came to 52%. While German vehicles made up 10% fewer offerings, Japanese vehicles were 12% (no Japanese vehicles appeared in 1975), beating the Italian (11%) and British (6%) offerings. American vehicles were only 2% of vehicles – mainly military vehicles of the past, which is different from Solido of the 1980s when Cadillacs, Thunderbirds and Studebakers, among others, were offered. American, German, Italian, and British models were less prevalent after 35 years, and three fewer countries were represented.

Over the decades, there has been a shift towards showcasing more French brands and less international variety in the offerings. This trend reflects a certain sense of nationalism in the automotive industry. Traditional Solido lines have been maintained, but the company seems to be in heavier competition, not only with Norev, but with the likes of French Eligor and Portuguese Vitesse in the selection, fit and finish of models.


  • The Famous Miniatures Solido. 1975. Annual catalog. Printed in France.
  • Force, Edward (1993). Solido Toys. Atglen PA: Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 0-88740-532-0.
  • Gardiner, Gordon; O'Neill, Richard (1996). The Collector's Guide to Toy Cars: An International Survey of Tinplate and Diecast Cars from 1990. London: Salamander Books. ISBN 9780517159774.
  • Olson, Randall (2008). GM in Miniature. Dorcester, England: Veloce Publishing. ISBN 9781845841560.
  • Rixon, Peter (2005). Miller's Collecting Diecast Vehicles. London: Mitchell Beazley. ISBN 9781845330309.


  1. ^ a b c What do we know about the Solido brand? on Tibormodel.com, 9 Apr 2023
  2. ^ a b c d e Our brand (history) on Solido.com
  3. ^ Rixon 2005, p. 9.
  4. ^ Force 1993, p. 5.
  5. ^ a b 40 Years of History. solijouet (collector's website).
  6. ^ a b c Militaires Solido Verem. solijouet (collector's website).
  7. ^ Rixon 2005, p. 34.
  8. ^ Force 1993, pp. 5–6.
  9. ^ Rixon 2005, p. 100.
  10. ^ Rixon 2005, p. 11.
  11. ^ Rixon 2005, p. 83.
  12. ^ Rixon 2005, p. 114.
  13. ^ Olson 2008, p. 26.
  14. ^ Rixon 2005, pp. 35, 79.
  15. ^ Gardiner & O'Neill 1996, pp. 36–7.
  16. ^ Gardiner & O'Neill 1996, pp. 18–9.

External links[edit]